Take Control of Your Health!
By Kris Isakson, DC
What is it that determines the level of health you will experience in your lifetime? Who is responsible for improving or maintaining your health? Although there are many factors that determine our level of health, hopefully most of us will conclude: I am the one who is primarily responsible for my own health. It may seem obvious at first, but it is prudent to ask oneself: "Knowingly or unknowingly, have I begun to believe my health is determined by the quality of healthcare I receive?" To examine our own thoughts and beliefs, let's consider some things on which we might mistakenly rely.
Finances and Wealth: "If we invest enough dollars, our healthcare will be the best." The real question is: Does higher spending actually produce better outcomes in health? The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports that in 2015 Americans amassed $3.2 trillion in healthcare expenditures, representing approximately 18% of GDP. By comparison, the UK spent 9% of GDP, Mexico 6%, and Canada 10%, which was about average for all nations studied. $3.2 trillion works out to $9,990 per person, or just shy of $50,000 per year for a family of five. Medical debt is the number one source of personal bankruptcy filings in the U.S., and in 2014 an estimated 40% of Americans racked up debt resulting from a medical issue. Continue reading and decide if our huge investment has paid off in better health.
Nation or Location: "I live in America. I must have the best healthcare in the world." As much as we love our great nation, the health statistics don’t lie. Unfortunately, all of our spending has not produced great results. One frequently monitored health measure is infant mortality rate. A CDC report from September 2014 compared the infant mortality rate of 27 nations, of which the U.S. was ranked dead last. Christopher Ingraham commented, "A baby born in the U.S. is nearly three times as likely to die during her first year of life as one born in Finland or Japan. Despite healthcare spending levels that are significantly higher than any other country in the world, a baby born in the U.S. is less likely to see his first birthday than one born in Hungary, Poland or Slovakia...Or in Belarus...Or in Cuba, for that matter." Additionally, our sky-rocketing obesity rates will increase the prevalence of diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, all of which are quite difficult and costly to manage.
New Medicine and Technology: "A great new cure will be developed for this soon." In 2013 the U.S. spent twice as much as any other nation on pharmaceutical drugs. It should come as no surprise that the pharmaceutical industry is one of the most profitable industries there is. The world's largest drug company, U.S.-based Pfizer, posted a jaw-dropping 42% profit on approximately $50 billion in sales in 2013. For comparison, Apple showed a 23% profit, and Wal-Mart a measly 3%. But drug companies need vast profit margins to fund research and development of new drugs, right? They would like us to think that, but in reality most companies spend 2-3 times as much on marketing as R & D. Not to mention the posted profits already factor in R & D expenses. Believe it or not, the drug companies' goal is to sell more drugs and make more money. Do they want you to get well? Actually, they make more money if you never get well and keep buying their products. All drugs need to pass rigorous trials, so they must be safe right? Due to under-reporting and inaccurate medical coding, it is hard to determine the exact number of deaths due to medical error in America. In May of 2016, NPR Health News reported, "A study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine says medical errors should rank as the third leading cause of death in the United States — and highlights how shortcomings in tracking vital statistics may hinder research and keep the problem out of the public eye." Medical error kills about 700 people every day, placing it behind heart disease and cancer, but ahead of chronic respiratory disease for top causes of death in America. This is considering legal prescription medicine only, not illegal drug fatalities. This doesn't sound like the solution for better health either.
Doctors: "If I find the best doctor(s), then I will be healthy." Doctors in America are doing amazing things, but they are increasingly being expected to see more and more patients in less and less time. Rarely do providers have the time to fully investigate a patient's nutritional status, lifestyle behaviors, family history, psychological well-being, etc. Your doctor can give you the best advice in the world; it is still your responsibility to follow through.
Optimal well-being is a concept of health that goes beyond the suppression of symptoms or curing of illness to one of achieving complete wellness. I like how Dr. Joseph Mercola summarizes the issue: "The truth is, your health is your responsibility. You are the only person who can make the lifestyle decisions that contribute to your wellbeing. You are the one who must take the steps to preserve your health and promote your wellness. Only you have the power to create wellness for yourself. Your power lies in the choices you make every day on your own behalf."
**This is an article that was written by Dr. Isakson and published in the Sioux Center News.